One of South Africa’s top distance runners for more than two decades, Rene Kalmer will make her highly anticipated ultra-marathon debut when she competes at the Old Mutual Two Oceans 56km race in Cape Town on April 20.
Though the 38-year-old athlete insists she is not expecting to challenge for victory, after returning to competition following multiple injury battles and the birth of her first child, her presence on the start line is likely to be of concern to her opponents.
As she prepares to race beyond the standard 42.2km distance for the first time, we take a look back on some of the highlights of Kalmer’s impressive career.
Displaying tremendous potential at a young age, Kalmer established her place among the country’s best athletes when she was still a wispy teenager.
In 1997, at the age of 16, she outclassed her more experienced compatriots to win the national senior 1 500m (track), 10km (road) and cross country titles.
One of South Africa’s most experienced athletes, Kalmer has competed twice at both the Olympic Games (2008 and 2012) and the IAAF World Championships (2001 and 2011). She has also represented the country three times at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, and eight times at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Having consistently capitalised on her versatility by juggling multiple disciplines throughout her career, Kalmer has cemented her place among the SA elite over a variety of distances.
She remains among the top 10 women in the all-time national rankings in seven events: 1 500m (5th), 3 000m (4th), 5 000m (6th), 10km (7th), 15km (10th), 21.1km (3rd), 42.2km (4th).
“It’s the 50th anniversary of the Two Oceans and I have to be part of it. Especially after the pregnancy and everything, I just needed a new goal to train for, and I’m very excited to run my first ultra.
After this I want to go back and focus on the marathon and try qualify for next year’s Olympic Games, so this is the only time I’ll have the opportunity to run an ultra in the next couple of years.”Rene Kalmer
- Kalmer’s indoor 5 000m personal best of 15:45.40, set in Stockholm in February 2010, is the national record in the event.
- In a remarkable string of performances which lasted 15 successive years, Kalmer dipped under 35 minutes over the 10km distance on the road every season between 2001 and 2015.
Kalmerand her younger sister, Christine, jointly boast the best ever result by a South African in the junior women’s race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Rene finished 12th in 1997 and 1998, and Christine matched her performance in 2001.
- Though she has never competed in the ultra-distance race, Kalmer has twice tasted success at the Old Mutual Two Oceans event, after winning the women’s half-marathon race in 2010 and 2012.
800m – 2:03.51 (Nijmegen, 23 May 2000)
1 000m – 2:46.78 (Rustenburg, 22 Jan 2001)
1 500m – 4:06.71 (Madrid, 5 Jul 2008)
3 000m – 8:44.17 (Montreuil, 8 Jun 2010)
5 000m – 15:35.00 (Durban, 17 Mar 2007)
1 500m – 4:16.96 (Gent, 14 Feb 2010)
3 000m – 9:01.41 (Doha, 12 Mar 2010)
5 000m – 15:45.40 (Stockholm, 10 Feb 2010)
5km – 16:12 (Albany, 31 May 2014)
10km – 32:27 (Durban, 26 Jul 2009)
15km – 51:11 (Germiston, 7 Apr 2013)
21.1km – 1:10:37 (Birmingham, 11 Oct 2009)
42.2km – 2:29:27 (Berlin, 28 Sep 2014)
2002 World Student Cross Country Championships (Santiago de Compostela) – 2nd, women’s race
2003 World Student Games (Daegu) – 8th, 1 500m (4:14.78)
2007 African Games (Algiers) – 6th, 1 500m (4:12.38)
2008 African Championships (Addis Ababa) – 6th, 1 500m (4:29.56)
2010 World Indoor Championships (Doha) – 8th, 3 000m (9:04.11)
2010 African Championships (Nairobi) – 8th, 1 500m (4:18.21)